So for the last 5 months, I’ve been traveling around quite a bit. I managed two residencies and was lucky enough to go visit family in South Africa for a bit.
First stop on the residency tour was Greensboro, NC. I seriously had no idea what to expect from this city: it’s in the South, of which I have my own preconceived notions. Those ideas, I’m fully aware, end up getting in the way more than ever serving as a useful shortcut. Greensboro reinforced that – it’s a progressive pocket. There’s so much grass-root social justice activism happening. I was seriously and pleasantly surprised.
Elsewhere brands itself as a “living museum”. Which is probably the most accurate way of describing the space. If anything, it’s a model that other museums and institutions should be (and some are already) looking at, in terms of the shifting role of such spaces in communities.
The space is a three-story, former thrift store owned by the current EDs’ grandmother, Sylvia Gray. Over the years she amassed a hefty collection that filled the entirety of the site. All three floors. She was allegedly suspect of customers – only selling to folks she liked, but following a daily schedule of sourcing new materials for the collection.
Artists in residence propose projects they’d like to tackle using the collection (which includes but is not limited to toys, fabric and clothing, dishes, knick-knacks, and vintage technology). They are also encouraged to think critically about existing art work made by artist alumni over the spaces 15 year residency history and alter pieces that reflect problematic ideas or references.
Interns in residence are tasked with everything from household management (because both artists and interns live in the space), to refurbishing and maintenance of the museum spaces, to assisting with organizing events held regularly for the community.
For me, the diverse community was one Elsewhere’s most important assets – a built-in support network of fellow artists, makers, educators and activists – not to mention the public flowing through the museum. In terms of my video piece, I had easy access to volunteers and actors.
Elsewhere exposed me to exciting new artists and thinkers – as a result I was able to interview two artists, Juju Holton and Edison Peñafiel, for The Coastal Post. I got to catch up with Meg Stein (who I met at Haystack Mountain Open Studio Residency), and she introduced me to Antoine Williams who was generous enough to let me into his classroom and shared the most incredible writing on Monsters I have ever read.
AND NOW, AN INFO DUMP:
- Vegetarian Co-op ($7/day) – Seriously enjoyed having a fully stocked kitchen that residents could use to create their own meals. We also had communal meals most lunch times, where and intern and a resident would cook the meal, and everyone else would clean the kitchen after – check out The Elsewhere Kitchen Instagram
- Power Hour, communal cleaning activity held once a week – everyone (staff, residents, interns) got an instruction sheet for a specific space in the museum to clean, and once the hour was done, so was your task. Worked surprisingly well.
- The Forge membership – Elsewhere has a membership with a maker space right around the corner. If you’re looking to use more sophisticated tools than they have on site, this membership allows access to 3D printers, routers, classes etc.
- Greensboro Project Space – UNCG’s off-site protean contemporary project space is pretty useful if you need an alternate site to film or perform at, and it too is ridiculously close (right next door to The Forge).